Friday, 26 December 2014

Highlights of Eat Like You Love Yourself 2014

Eat Like You Love Yourself was my new blog for 2014.  It has been a busy and enjoyable year.  I wanted to share my highlights of this year.

My blog Eat Like You Love Yourself was born out of eating regularly on my own, cooking regularly for one and never eating the foods that made me feel good physically or emotionally.  When I sat down and thought about it, cooking well for one wasn't difficult and oven chips with mayonnaise was not a meal.

So I started to try and eat more healthily and in a way which fits in with my busy lifestyle as a working mother.  Here are some of my highlights so far.

My favourite 10 minute recipe

My blog has always been about good food fast.  Sticky peanuts and chicken is one of my favourite recipes.  A delicious and fantastically quick meal.  Described as an "amazing recipe" by one reader.  That didn't half make me smile!

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Being alone at Christmas

For some people being lonely at Christmas is a terrible thing.  Being in any situation you don't want to be in is certainly not ideal.

Mince pies

This year, I'm spending half of the day with loved ones and half of the day alone.  In the afternoon, I have sole control of the TV remote, a pile of leftovers, a Christmas cake for one, chocolate and maybe the odd glass of wine.  To be honest with you, this might sound sad but to me it sounds fantastic.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Steamed Fish with Two Sauces

Sorry about the awful photos on this one but pieces of steamed fish never look that delicate, especially after you've removed them from the steamer.

Oh yes this was pretty tasty.  Earthy flavour from the coriander and sesame oil with a deep savoury backnote of soy and then the sugary heat from the sweet chilli.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014


Proper cocoa is great when you've come in from the cold.  I like my cocoa strong, bitter and with dark sugar so it's like quality chocolate in a glass.  I use semi skimmed (1%) milk but then top with cream.  It's like a little cuddle.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Slow Cooked Oxtail

Oxtail is something I tried many years ago and wondered what the fuss was about.  The two things I did wrong when cooking it was cooking it for too long so it was almost falling off the bone but then actually taking it off the bone before serving.  Now pieces of a tail of an animal are never going to look like the most beautiful things on a plate (I don't think I've done too badly mind but I have fallen foul of the artificial lighting curse), however, when you take it off the bone, it does not look pretty at all.

But in the spirit of true nose to tail eating; it is more environmentally friendly and respectful of an animal to use the whole carcass and likewise, I've found out that not only is oxtail fantastically cheap, if you cook it right, it doesn't look bad at all and it tastes pretty darn good.

I've suggested this makes two portions but these are two small but richly, flavour packed plates.  Oxtail is largely bone so if you really want some meatiness, this may just serve one.  I cut the remaining meat off the bone and ate it for lunch at work in front of my boss as we had an informal meeting.  At the end, he stopped and said "what was that?  It smelled great!"

Slow cooked oxtail

Friday, 12 December 2014

Prawn Satay

Prawn Satay is something I had in Indonesia many years ago.  I may sound well travelled but I'm talking about some prawns, peanut dip and cheap beer in Bali, not exactly high brow but a good memory of travelling nonetheless.

Prawn Satay

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Mashed Parsnip

Mashed parsnips was something I used to have when I was a student.  I was dating a guy and we'd go to his Mum's for Sunday lunch.  I was a student, poor and skinny (hmm, no longer) so loved being fed, she had two boys so had a view of FILLING plates.  You had to eat through at least three inches of vegetables and stuffing to get to the meat.  Always on top were mashed parsnips.  I have to admit I never liked to say it but I didn't like them, they were grainy and fibrous.  It was one of those things you just had to eat through to get to the good bits.  But I had a glut (victim of a "reduced for quick sale bargain") one day and decided to have a go myself.  By cooking until the parsnips are really soft and using a ricer, gone was the grainy textured spoonful I remember and in it's place was some of the best mashed potato I'd ever tasted, although of course it isn't mashed potato, it's mashed parsnip and that's what gives it so much more flavour.

This is on my Christmas Day menu as a side dish already, probably alongside some sprouts with lemon and black pepper.

Mashed parsnips

Sunday, 7 December 2014


Chowder is often made with fish and corn.  I wanted something warming for me and my son when I made this.  It had got to 12:30 and the frost still hadn't melted off the car.  What can satisfy apart from soup in the circumstances?

I would prefer to make chowder from smoked fish but knowing I didn't have any in and knowing bacon chowder is also a 'thing' I decided to go completely off piste and combine the too.  Why not?

Pollock is a great fish to use; not only is it cheap but it's also a source of Omega 3, cod isn't.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Sprouts with Lemon and Black Pepper

Sprouts, every year there is a new recipe for how to make them palatable.  If I'm honest, boil them for 6 minutes and I'm happy.  I love the delicious flavour, the texture which is at the same time like cabbage but yet firm and cute, but I am realistic, I know I'm in the minority.  I heard a joke today; "What's the most popular wine at Christmas?  

Do we have to eat sprouts?"

But I tried this recently and decided it was pretty darn delicious, even if it does hide the lovely sprouty flavour (a little).

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

My Christmas Present Wishlist for Foodies

I love looking at Christmas wishlists this time of year and looking at items I'd not thought of but I always see more things I'd like than I really think would be great for someone else.

So here are my top buys for Christmas.  (No sponsorship, just what I think looks cool!)  Links are only for convenience, not endorsing any particular retailer.

I might not seem like it but I do like meat despite my frequent vegetarian recipes.  I've always wanted to have a go at making my own sausages and this simple kit gives you enough to make 20.  I'm thinking Pork and Stilton as my first variety.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014


Flapjack will not win any health awards.  Do not be fooled by the oats being healthy, the butter and sugar stuff any thoughts of that!

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Stilton and Walnut Salad

Winter salad made with creamy British Stilton, sweetness from apples, bitterness from walnuts and a delicious mustardy dressing.  Are salads in winter wrong?  I don't think so, look, I admit I used one out of season ingredient here because I had some courgette in my fridge but you could always substitute for some finely sliced cabbage or hard winter leaves.

It can be difficult in Winter to get raw vegetables in your diet, I like eating some raw food.  There is something so beautiful about a salad whatever time of year to make you not feel weighed down by stodge.

This would be a pretty good Christmas Day starter if you go for that kind of thing or for a special meal with a loved one when you don't want to be weighed down with food.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014


Dhal is one of those recipes I turn to in desperation when it's the end of the month and the bank account is looking sickly.  I then often wonder why I don't make it more frequently.  Maybe it's because it's the ultimate "you already have all the ingredients in but you didn't realise" recipe?  Or maybe because it seems so humble being made from such cheap ingredients and being vegan?  Who knows but every time I make it, I think "I should make this more often!"

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Fish Tortilla Wraps

Fish tortilla wraps were an invention to try and use food in my house.  Let's face it, November is an expensive month, especially if you start your Christmas shopping early like I have.  I realised before the weekend I had £10 left in my account.  It's always the way that you think there's nothing in the fridge or cupboards, then look a bit harder and can come up with something new.

So expect a few thrifty recipes coming your way!

Fish tacos

Sometimes necessity is the mother of invention.  You can buy really thrifty packs of pollock (often called "white fish") in the freezer department.  A great source of protein and Omega 3.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

In praise of chillis; my top chilli recipes

Chillis are one of my favourite ingredient.  Recently on a trip to Italy I felt inspired to take a photo of these beautiful chillis, their bright waxy skins were so beautiful.

It made me realise how much I cook with chillis and enjoy eating them.  I think chillis are key to fast cooking for one because it is a way to pack in flavour without necessarily cooking for a long time.

What's more is that chillis are so versatile.  You can use them fresh, frozen, dried, ground or pickled, even use them smoked, actually smoked chipotles are beautiful.  I will write a recipe using them soon.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Spiced Shortbread

Shortbread is one of my Mum's best recipes but I was inspired by the recent pepper challenge to try making it with pepper.  Why on earth?  Well pepper and strawberries has become one of those slightly off beat but accepted combinations which don't work but do, like chilli and chocolate or salt with caramel.  I was trying to think of how to combine strawberries and pepper and the idea of a buttery shortbread biscuit popped into my head so that's where the inspiration came from, now it's time to test out whether it works!

A gentle criticism on my last post was the donut burger would be ideal post break up food.  Forget that, this is the post breakup food.  A combination of gently spiced shortbread with peppered strawberries and silky cream.  It's what Sunday teas are all about.  I, however, was lucky enough to not suffer heartbreak today but I did spend 3 hours Christmas shopping in my local city centre.  That, is a long time for me (I hate crowds) but I was helped on my way by the most fantastic food festival I stumbled across.  I ate the most delicious curry goat spiced with turmeric which stained my fingers, delicious cinnamon and chilli which burned on for a good half an hour.  Fantastic.  But even the best curry goat is not enough to sustain you through the early Christmas shopping crowds.  It's not a surprise that internet shopping is so popular.

I have to admit I've artfully placed two delicate squares of shortbread on the plate for the photo but once taken, I piled on a few more.  Sorry but needs must.  You should have seen the madness in Primark!

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The Ethics of Food

This popped up in my newsfeed this evening.  A burger made with doughnuts ('donuts') instead of bread.  On what planet is this a good idea?

The 'donut' burger.  Here we go:

From the BBC News Feed
So there you go.  This 'delight' is served up by Hungry Horse pubs.  These are the kind of pubs families on low incomes can go out to and afford to feed the family, the kind of places with family deals.  They have a kids club and kids menu.  Exactly the kind of places where you would hope someone in development would think about the consumers not just about emulating a trend to be like Man vs. Food (when even Adam Richman has stepped away from the food challenges nowadays.)

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Mulled Grape Juice

Mulled wine is something I love and will make or buy over the winter months but, after buying a bottle of non alcoholic gluwein from a well known furniture store, it made me wonder, is it actually better?

I seem to say this a lot but I'm not puritanical.  I will happily have a glass of wine but I'm of the view where if you can make small changes to your life without even noticing which help your health, perhaps you should.

When I've made mulled wine in the past, I've added masses of sugar to get the same kind of flavour you can get when buying it in a Christmas Fair, now I'm more than a little convinced that I may have been drinking mulled grape juice all along (or at least a proportion of it.)  Still, older and wiser now, I can now make my own and this is how to do it.

Mulled Grape Juice

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Cherry Pancakes

American style pancakes are my weekend breakfast of choice, even above a bacon sandwich.  I know, hard to believe.  I used to make sugar free versions of these when my son was little but these little beauties are a delicious concoction of defrosted cherries making a vibrant lilac batter drizzled with syrup and topped with butter.

I should explain; yesterday I ran for 7.5 miles.  My previous maximum was 6.4 miles and that felt hard.  I ended up on the sofa last night, aching and then slept for 8.5 hours and felt like I could have slept for a few more.  Sometimes you need a breakfast which is better for the soul than the body and sometimes you need to say "I need a rest day"!

American style pancakes

I've made a decent amount of batter for these; the good news is they freeze brilliantly.  Reheat gently in a microwave or in a non stick frying pan (taking care not to burn), alternatively it works just as well if you halve the recipe.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Lentil and Mushroom Pie

Lentils are the kind of food which could almost convince me to become vegetarian.  They are a great source of folate but also filling and substantial.  Paired with mushrooms, it is the taste of delicious autumnal earthy flavours.

I've used a butter pastry on the top but if you are vegan, substitute the butter for dairy free margarine.

I've frozen one of these raw and will let you know how it reheats!

Lentil and Mushroom Pie

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Sticky Ginger Salmon with Stir Fried Vegetables

Sticky ginger coatings for fish, I'm so in love with it.  This is a simple and delicious coating for fish with adds so much flavour.  A great way to perk up a bit of salmon.

Sticky Ginger Salmon

Friday, 24 October 2014


Porridge has been one of the few breakfasts I'd go for while trying to eat 'clean', eggs being another but apart from that, so many breakfast offerings are packed with sugar, salt or processed so heavily.  What has made breakfast the meal where we just can't be bothered?  This is when you realise it takes about 5 minutes to make porridge and 6 minutes to boil an egg.  Are we really that busy?

Porridge, eggs, they both fill you up and set you up.  How could you be offered eggs or porridge and then say "no thanks, I'd rather have Froot Loops?"

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Chicken Tikka

So day 2 of clean eating and I've been obsessing about what to cook.  So many things in my repertoire I'm learning contain processed ingredients.  I'm longing to have tomato and pesto soup but I buy the pesto ready made and, although the bread I have in the freezer is sourdough, it's made with white flour and I didn't make it.  This could be tricky and time consuming for what is normally a 10 minute meal.

Chicken tikka is something I regularly make from preprepared pastes and similarly it's quick and easy to prepare.  With my clean eating experiment, I couldn't do that so I tried to make one myself.  I was fairly happy with the result.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Stuffed Pumpkin

Stuffed pumpkin was my first lunchtime dish on my attempt to practice 'cleaner eating', basically eating minimally processed foods as much as possible.

I had happened to buy a tiny pumpkin in the 'reduced for quick sale' section of my local supermarket.  I bought it because it fit in my hand, it was 25p and was unbearably cute.  That said, I like pumpkin in things but had never been that fussed with them being the star.  This recipe brings together the best of everything seasonal though; sweetness from the pumpkin, earthy flavours from the lentils and mushrooms and salty cheese.

What is clean eating?

Clean eating is something I've been vaguely aware of bubbling away in the consciousness of food blogs, magazines etc for a while.  I lumped it in with 'paleo', '5:2', 'raw food' and dismissed it as a fad.  Sorry, I'm no fad dieter, it just doesn't work for me.

"Eat Death" Bruce Nauman, Ca' Pesaro, Venice

Friday, 17 October 2014

Thai Yellow Salmon Curry

Thai yellow curry, why not?  This is a fantastically quick meal to make once you've made the paste (see below.)

I love eating oily fish like Salmon, it makes me feel right from the inside somehow.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Baked fish with Pesto

Pollock is a fantastic fish.  It's always worth checking but it's generally more available than cod or haddock and the other great thing is it's a source of Omega 3 healthy oils (cod isn't.)  The other benefit is pollock is cheap.  It's often sold as "white fish" in the UK, especially if sold frozen but if you look at the detail you see what it is.

Great for a fish pie but also a great backdrop for strong flavours like this.

Baked fish with pesto

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Moroccan Chicken Soup

Soup, it HAS to be soup.  Autumn seemed to be months away and then it came in with a roar.  The heating has gone on and (central) heating of soup is in order.

This is a gently warming soup, inspired by Moroccan flavours.  I have no doubt this is inauthentic but I like to think of this as something inspired by Moroccan flavours combined with the joy of autumnal British weather.

Moroccan Chicken Soup

Monday, 6 October 2014

Creamy Mushroom Pasta

Creamy Mushrooms with lovely pasta.  This is a simple dish and something I used to make at university.  It's a great way to use up cream going out of date (or even one day over as you're cooking it) and contains one of your 5 a day.

Creamy mushroom pasta

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Mexican Style Chopped Salad

This salad was designed to be something which would be easy to knock up out of store cupboard ingredients and the food left in the fridge at the end of a week.  I like a salad for work lunch but salad leaves only last so long and, as winter approaches, it gets more difficult (and out of season) to eat.  The jalapenos make it.  If you can stand the heat, have loads.  They don't half perk up a work lunchbreak!

Mexican salad

Monday, 29 September 2014

Stilton and Spinach 'pesto'

Pesto obviously should not contain, well, any of the ingredients I've included here but I'm currently playing around with pasta and different ways to make it super quick.  I love a bit of Stilton and it occurred to me that Stilton and Walnuts are such a classic combination.  Basil though would be far too much and would overpower the blue cheese flavour so I plumped for spinach.

I liked it, see what you think.  Obviously this is Italian food via the English Midlands!

Stilton pesto

Thursday, 25 September 2014


Pissaladiere is an open onion tart either made with a bread or pastry base.  I've used a puff pastry base to make it simple and super fast to cook.


This makes two small tarts.  I was going to keep one for lunch but liked it too much so ate them both for tea.  Oops.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Paneer Tikka

Paneer tikka is a vegetarian dish where you really don't miss the meat.  In fact, every vegetarian dish I make is 'accidentally' veggie.  I like meat but, where a meal is so good you don't even think about the meat, that's my kind of veggie food.  (You will never see me eating a vegetarian sausage, sorry, what is the point?  I've tried them, they taste like cardboard.)

Paneer tikka

But paneer is fantastic.  It has great texture and absorbs flavours brilliantly.  This is a mildly spiced dish, if you want more heat, add more chilli.

Is it extravagant firing up a barbecue for one?  Well yes but why the hell not?  This is eating like you love yourself after all!  Alternatively heat up the grill but there's something right about celebrating an Indian summer with Indian barbecue food.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Broccoli with Chorizo and Broad Beans

I love broccoli, I know the world doesn't agree with me and it's almost as unloved as my other favourite vegetable, brussel sprouts but for me, broccoli is a flavour packed powerhouse.  The fact it's also good for you is a bit of a bonus.

I was trying to think of a new way to serve broccoli because I had some tenderstem in my fridge which needed eating up.  This was what I came up with.  As a vegetable fan, I ate this on it's own, that's the joy when you're cooking for one, no-one judges you for a plate of vegetables but it might be nice as a less meat heavy tapa or as a side dish to serve with something complementary; fish could be good.

Broccoli and chorizo

We could all do with eating less meat for health and environmental reasons.  A lot of my recent recipes have been vegetarian but this, although containing meat, uses it more as a 'spice' than as a major component.  If you want to reduce your meat consumption without giving it up, that's one way to approach it.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Salmon with Hollandaise sauce

Hollandaise sauce has a fearsome reputation; I'm not going to lie to you, it's easy to get wrong.  It's basically a warm mayonnaise which is unstable if cold and unstable if too hot.  Yeah, this is really loving yourself to make this!

My top tip is to make the salmon and vegetables, put on a warm plate and then make the hollandaise.  To start with I tried to do both at once, I was ravenous having done a 5 mile run, I managed to have it ready before everything else was, in my panic, I put it back on the heat too long and it split.  Oh and I banged my head on the hood.  I'd hate you to think everything always goes perfectly in the ELYLY household!

But once you made it for the second time (after a few expletives), you realise it's easy to whip up (literally) in a few minutes so making it quickly when everything else is ready is the way to go.

Salmon with hollandaise

For salmon, to have it cooked perfectly, never bother with the pack instructions.  I've read that you should cook it for 25 minutes on some retailers packaging!  How dry and unpleasant it would be after that?  It certainly won't be as deliciously soft and tasty as this salmon is.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Individual Clafoutis

Clafoutis is something I have a huge emotional connection with.  The first time I ate Clafoutis, I was 15 and travelling on my own for the first time.  I'd flown to France to see my French pen friend.  What followed was a huge education for me.  I was nervous as hell, unsure of my ability to communicate, quiet, naive and not very worldly.  Paris opened my eyes and I fell in love immediately.

In my mind, the long awkward silences where I had no idea what people were talking about was forgotten replaced with memories of long luxurious dinners, served with wine, which, even though I'd tried I wasn't used to.  Hours of eating and laughing with friends, family, extended family.  I tried to order steak "bien cuit" in restaurants twice, for it to arrive as the chef saw fit (rare to medium rare) and learned to love it even though rare steak was unheard of in my home.  I remember having a connection with a French boy, which may have all been in my head and never went anywhere but made my heart thump and feel dizzy even looking back now.

But I also remember clafoutis.


We had visited my friend's grandparents and she bought us some Clafoutis as a snack.  I didn't know then but it was served in an unusual style, it must have been leftover from the night before as it was cold and sliced into wedges, but for me, that might have been the most delicious thing I had ever tasted.

So this, after a bit of trial is my taste memory of Clafoutis made by my friend's Grandmother.  I have long lost touch with her now.  Writing that made me remember her full name and search for her on Facebook, and, strangely I think I may have found her.  What interesting places making food can lead!  I only hope her English is better than my long forgotten French but I've sent her a message.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Peanut and Sesame Noodles

Am I becoming vegetarian by stealth?  Well no but it doesn't do any harm for all of us to eat less meat.  When vegetarian food tastes this good though, you don't miss it.  This is a delicious vegan dish which is ready in super fast time.  In 15 minutes I'd made it, from scratch, photographed it and was eating.  And oh man it was good.  It was a great combination too, the richness from the peanut butter, went beautifully with the crunchy vegetables.  It just wouldn't work with meat, it would feel too heavy.

If you want a bit more spice, add in some sliced chilli as this is just gently warming.

peanut and sesame noodles

Friday, 5 September 2014

Beef Ragu

I am currently running down my freezer stock because I need to move it in a few days time as I'm getting the paint brush out.  I had the idea for this after defrosting some beef and thinking I wanted to do something different with it than the usual stewed beef in beer.  If it seems odd having chunks of meat with pasta, think of it like a chunkier bolognese.

Don't dismiss slow cookers when cooking for one, almost everything you make in a slow cooker reheats well and this is no exception.  Also you won't get that "I'm bored" feeling because you could eat this as a stew or with pasta, or mix with pinto beans and tabasco for a cheats chilli.  If you do get bored, stick leftovers in the freezer.

Beef ragu

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Thai Style Prawn Soup

Thai Style prawn soup is my go to dish when I'm feeling a bit stodgy, like when you've eaten masses of pasta for days and you feel sluggish and tired by it all.

It might not 'officially' be soup season yet but there is something about Thai soups which are light, tasty and refreshing.  The chilli and lime gives you such zing and energy.  This is a dish to have in the evening after a heavy few days; feel good about life and go to bed feeling happy and healthy.

If you often happen to have home made unsalted fish or chicken stock, I would use that in preference to the water, however, I don't often do so.  Never use stock cubes, they'd be too salty.

Tom Yum Soup

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Quick Fish Stew

Fish is something which is fantastic for one.  So much great fish is available frozen, it's quick to defrost, tasty and a great source of Omega 3.

Quick fish stew

This uses raw prawns and fresh mackerel fillets (bought frozen).  Mackerel can be a tough sell for some people because of it's inherent 'fishy' flavour, especially if bought less than super fresh but the joy with buying frozen is it is always fresh and mackerel can stand up to robust flavours.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

Insalata Caprese was the inspiration for this dish but this is not really a faithful recreation.  I rarely have a pot of basil sat on my shelf, (hugging it in wistful melancholy or otherwise.*)

Pesto, however, I do have, as I love tomato and pesto soup and it is great as a short cut to basil flavour with a slightly longer shelf life (try stirring it into pasta sauces for depth).  Or perhaps I don't possess Isabella's green fingers for keeping basil plants alive (or interesting fertilising techniques).

Insalata Caprese

Monday, 25 August 2014

Sticky Chicken and Peanut Salad

I seem to be inspired a lot by Asian food recently.  I was wondering why but then realised what I'm craving is quick, easy to cook tasty food.  What part of the world does that better?  Also the takeaway I always crave are Asian foods.  While driving home tonight I was tempted to drive onto the takeaway but then decided to make something instead.

This is a dish more inspired by ingredients than authenticity.  The result was a delicious mix of sweet, sticky chicken with a hint of spice with crunchy vegetables and the ultimate in fast cooking noodles.  It took less than 10 minutes to cook, there is no way I could have ordered a takeaway quicker and felt fresh and healthy.

Sticky chicken salad

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Baked Feta

Feta cheese is one of my favourite cheeses.  It's great both raw and cooked but cooked is different.  It somehow enhances the salty, tangy flavour.

Many years ago, when in Greece I had a starter of baked feta cheese.  It arrived pretty much like this and I've always wanted to recreate it at home but have never found a recipe.  This is off the top of my head, trying to remember flavours from 15 years ago so, probably very inauthentic.  It does feel like a celebration of the last dying days of summer.  Great for when you would really love a barbecue but the weather is not encouraging and it would be great as part of a buffet.

Feta cheese doesn't completely melt but it does soften.  You're looking out for a softer, almost spreadable consistency, it won't go like a fondue.

Baked feta

Wednesday, 20 August 2014


Laksa is a spicy soup popular in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.  A very long time ago I went travelling in that part of the world and it still brings back warm memories.

There are as many different types of Laksa as you like.  Some have more curry flavours, some more spicy, garnishes vary from egg, to coriander, to pineapple!  My version is simplified and easy to make from ingredients you can find in a UK supermarket, although when I do next go to a Chinese supermarket I'm going to try some shrimp paste in the mix and try galangal rather than ginger.

You don't have to include turmeric, not all recipes do but for me it reminds me of Singapore, that meeting point of so many foods and cultures where the Indian influence merges with Malay, Chinese and European.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Chicken Tray Bake

Tray bakes are I made this for my son and I.  If you're hungry this is a decent portion for one, alternatively, cut any leftover chicken off the bone, then reheat the mix and serve with couscous for lunch.

Chicken Tray Bake

There is something lovely about chickpeas and chorizo.  Maybe I'm harking for Spain?  Anyway, if you like the look of this, also have a gander at my fish with chorizo recipe which is another cheeky little dish.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Tomato Salsa

Tomato salsa from a jar is perfectly fine but it has been made in a process with lots of heat treatment meaning nutritionally it's not quite as good as fresh.  Tortilla chips and salsa feels like a treat, like something naughty but if you make it from fresh you have lime juice, tomatoes, peppers; all great sources of vitamin C, vitamin A, fibre (there is a massive amount of vitamin C in sweet peppers for example, more than citrus fruits.)

So effectively rather than having something with a sweet spicy sauce that's devoid of anything good, you're effectively having your tortilla chops with a fat free salad, except it doesn't feel that way and that's kind of cool.

I do have to apologise for my photo.  We are getting to that time of year that unless I cook and eat early in the evenings, I'm restricted to artificial light.  Boo hiss.  Not my favourite way to take photographs at all and always a compromise.  Still, I am sure this will become a new staple food so I will be making it again and photograph it during daylight hours when I have the chance.


This makes a ramekin full which was just right for me and the fresh flavour of it is better properly fresh.  If you do have any leftover, keep in the fridge, the next day, lay some tortilla chips out on an oven proof plate, top with the salsa and cheese and grill (keep a close eye) until the cheese has melted for some awesome nachos.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Prawn and Chilli Linguine

I love prawns.  It might seem decadent to cook raw prawns 'just' for yourself but you can get some pretty good value raw prawns in the freezer section.  Look out for when they're on offer and they're a great thing to have as a standby meal which feels anything but a standby; it even feels pretty luxurious.

I've been cooking more pasta without tomato based sauces recently; like my mackerel pasta.  The great thing about them is they taste so fresh and light.  Perfect for the last days of summer and they're so quick to make, they're ideal for eating after a hard session with an exercise DVD (damn you Bob Harper!)  Let's face it, we're all busy people.  When you have a child to put to bed, exercise to do, the last thing you want to do is spend ages preparing a meal.

By including the courgette, you cut down on the carbs a bit and introduce a vegetable.  The courgette is very lightly cooked so it still has a bit of bite which works well with the al dente linguine.  I like it that way but if you prefer it softer, just cook it a little longer.  The chilli adds a touch of zing without being massively hot and the wine lends a slight hint of acidity.  So all very simple but a lovely balanced flavour.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Cauliflower Cheese

Cauliflower cheese is like a great big milky cuddle.  We grow up for our first 6 months of life living on milk and I think there is nothing more comforting than a great big bowl of milky, cheesy goodness.

Cauliflower cheese

Monday, 11 August 2014

Saag Paneer

Saag paneer or spinach and cheese curry is one of my favourite things to eat.  I'm not a vegetarian but forget all ideas on vegetarian curries being only for sandal wearing sack cloth dressed hippies (before I carry on, perhaps I should point out some of my best friends are vegetarian and none wear sack cloth...)  Anyway, there is something uniquely satisfying about paneer in a curry.  It's a great source of protein and it absorbs flavours fantastically.

Cheese in a curry if you've never tried it might sound strange but paneer is not cheddar.  If you've ever tried halloumi, it's a similar idea.  It holds it's shape, doesn't melt and, although I keep meaning to try it but never have, it's even possible to make at home.